Double Anniversary Celebration
SLU-Madrid commemorated 50 years of educating ‘Global Billikens' at a landmark event, which brought together hundreds of members of the University's past and present. The 50th anniversary coincides with the 200th anniversary of the founding of the University in the United States in 1818.
The double anniversary celebration began with a solemn Mass held at the Iglesia de San Francisco de Borja, the flagship church of the Society of Jesus in Spain. His Eminence, the Most Reverend Cardinal Carlos Osoro, Archbishop of the Dioceses of Madrid presided over the service, offering his blessing to the University as an institution born under the wing of the Catholic Church. In the homily, he lauded the University for the higher purposes it serves: searching for the truth and educating students to discover the transcendent dignity of being human.
After the Mass, SLU-Madrid held the Honorary Degree Conferral Ceremony, awarding Saint Louis University's highest honor, the Degree of Doctor honoris causa to three distinguished Spaniards. The University proudly recognized the exceptional humanitarian accomplishments of Rev. Enrique Figaredo, S.J., the ground-breaking scholarly work of feminist theologian Ms. Isabel Gómez-Acebo, and the acclaimed career of contemporary writer and Spanish Royal Academy (RAE) member Mr. José María Merino.
All three of the Doctor honoris causa recipients addressed the audience. Ms. Gómez-Acebo tackled the challenging question of what a Catholic education offers to students from different countries, races and religions, who live in a society which is largely indifferent to religious values. Mr. Merino shared his reflections on the craft of writing and how fiction has come about as a way humans can order and understand the world around them. In the final address of the day, Padre ‘Kike' Figaredo spoke about the mission of a Jesuit education: to become men and women for others. His explanation stemmed from the metaphor of the giraffe, an animal with an oversized heart, excellent long-distance vision, and the ability to live among animals different from itself.
The event continued with a celebratory banquet on the SLU-Madrid Campus, complete with a surprise visit from the Billiken, a photo booth, speeches, a raffle and the ceremonial release of three cages of "rock doves" (also referred to as "rock pigeons").
SLU-Madrid wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you to all who helped make the event a success, including the visitors who travelled from St. Louis for the event: President Dr. Fred Pestello, Provost Dr. Nancy Brickhouse, Vice Presidents Jay Goff and William Perkins, Rev. Christopher Collins, S.J., Tim Hercules, and... the Billiken.